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Plastic Bag Fees Not Good Idea

Plastic grocery bags have plenty of detractors, including, sometimes, customers. The environmentally conscious worry about them for a variety of reasons.

But taxing them is no way to address concerns about plastic bags. Still, some large cities, ranging from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., use bans and taxes in attempts to reduce or eliminate use of plastic bags.

Ohio may be next, if officials in some metropolitan areas have their way. Cuyahoga County leaders have been discussing fees of 5-10 cents per plastic bag handed out by stores.

Fortunately, state legislators are in no mood to allow localities to add new fees, which amount to taxes by another name. State House of Representatives members have approved a bill that would prohibit local fees on plastic bags such as those used almost universally by grocery stores. The measure was passed by a 54-29 vote.

State senators ought to follow the House’s lead. Once that happens, Gov. John Kasich should sign the measure into law.

One interesting aspect of local plastic bag fees is that they often are promoted by the same crowd of liberals who never tire of proclaiming they are defenders of low-income Americans. How, one wonders, is padding a family’s grocery bill with fees on plastic bags helping them?

Local government attempts to curb use of plastic may be a solution in search of a problem. Some large retail chains are considering phase-outs of the bags. The Kroger Co. announced last summer that is plans to phase the bags out by 2022.

Lawmakers are right, then, to give the private sector, spurred, perhaps, by customer preferences, time to deal with the plastic bag issue on its own.


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